New executive order clarifies quarantine language to address legal issues

Tumon hotel used by the government of Guam for quarantine. (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has issued a new executive order clarifying Guam’s quarantining policies as more legal cases mount against Public Health.

The new executive order came Sunday evening after yet another court judgment siding with quarantined passengers and ordering their release this weekend.

The new EO basically rescinds ALL previous sections of EOs detailing anything related to quarantine or home quarantine and replaces everything with a blanket EO.

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“Previous EOs were referencing certain mandates and certain laws and certain statutes but we wanted to make sure it’s an all-encompassing executive order which includes all laws that concern themselves with quarantine and isolation. So we decided, of course through legal advice, that the best way to do that would be with a broad statement like that would just say ‘quarantine is mandated’ and then you know, in the courts those would be hashed out,” the governor said in an interview with NewsTalk K57.

This new order just says: “Travelers to and individuals already in Guam, including residents and non-residents, may be subject to quarantine and isolation. Such quarantine and isolation may occur in government qualified facilities.”

Negative test or not, everyone — with some exceptions — is going into quarantine right now but the governor says they’ll now be clearly told what their legal avenues are.

“So what needs to be done is, allow them to say ‘I’m going to voluntarily or I’m not going to voluntarily quarantine’. In both choices, you still have to go to the quarantine facility. In the involuntary side, you’d have to appear before the court and the court would have to make that decision,” Leon Guerrero said.

The governor says she’s also working to put in safeguards when the court does side with the plaintiffs.

“When you come in and you find it involuntary, then you have to go before the court. And, based on what their decision is, that’s what we have to follow. So, I think in some of the previous cases she [Judge Elyze Iriarte] ordered they be released. And, we weren’t sure if that meant release to finish quarantining at home, or just released to the public,” the governor said.

Leon Guerrero says Public Health will offer to test those specific people before they leave quarantine so there’s some assurance of COVID-negativity.

And the Governor says they’re currently working on an updated policy altogether.

“So right now, we’re not doing that. Right now we are quarantining everybody. Whether you come with a negative test or not. And we monitor you and we’re looking at maybe changing that protocol to maybe test out at 7 days but we haven’t yet done that,” the governor said.

Leon Guerrero says the initial decision to quarantine all arriving passengers was based on finding positive cases traced back to travelers breaking home quarantine.

Dr. Tom Shieh, a vocal advocate against the GovGuam quarantine, sent a statement to PNC News in reaction to the latest all-encompassing executive order, saying: “Governor’s decision to lock up returning Guam residents in hotels is not based on sound data or science. She says people break quarantine at home? Show me who, what, and where? Publish all the arrests and fines, show them all. She should punish them not the innocent people who even tested negative who she locked up in the hotels. Fact. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor tested positive for COVID-19 and they isolated at home, but they want to lock others up inside a hotel, even when they tested negative? This is not science, it’s stupidity.”